Figure-ground organization refers to experience that viewers have as to which part of the image is in front and which part of an image is in the background of a particular scene. In essence, we divide the world into two elements: the figure that is the object of regard, and the rest, which is ground or background.
We can identify environmental features that influence our perception of figure-ground. One feature is symmetry. A figure with symmetrical borders is more likely to be judged as being in the foreground, the object you are looking at, than being in the background.
Use this activity to explore how the symmetry helps determine what is seen as a figure.
To see the illustration in full screen, which is recommended, press the Full Screen button, which appears at the top of the page.
Below is a list of the ways that you can alter the illustration. The settings include the following:
Symmetry: choose what has symmetrical edges. To the left, the blue
areas have symmetrical edges, and to the right, the white areas have
New Pattern: generate a new pattern. The shapes are randomly selected.
Pressing this button restores the settings to their default values.